Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 11/18/11

With yesterday's announcement that the Astros would move to the American League in 2013 and that with that move would come constant interleague play, it's clear that Major League Baseball will look very different in 2013 and beyond than it has since interleague play was introduced in 1997. 

The new arrangement leaves lots of questions: with the new playoff arrangment emphasizing winning divisions, will the league find a better way to balance the schedules? Just how many interleague games will the teams play every year? Thirty makes the most sense, but Jayson Stark says that MLB is looking to keep the teams at around the 18 interleague games per year that they're at now, simply spread throughout the year instead of concentrated into a few weeks during the middle of the summer. The balanced schedule is a topic for another day and another rant, (Teaser! The schedule's not going to be balanced because Selig refuses to give up his precious Yankees/Mets series and that's going to create some huge unfairness in the division races, which are of utmost importance because wild card teams now have to win a one-game playoff to make the big boy playoffs.) but the topic of constant interleague play leaves another elephant in the room that needs addressed: the designated hitter and its absence in the National League. 

Because interleague play will have to be a constant, that means that the season will have to end with at least one interleague series. Which means that it's entirely possible that one team will be forced to try and win a division late in the year by playing with a set of rules other than the one that their team is optimized for. In his column Stark wonders what would happen if the Red Sox 2011 collapse ended in Cincinnati with David Ortiz on the shelf for all three games. What happens when a National League team misses the playoffs by a game, with some overmatched 23-year old kid playing DH simply because they don't have the luxury of using a roster spot on a player that can't field striking out to end the season with the tying run on third base? 

I'll tell you what's going to happen. The DH is going to come to the National League. It brings me no pleasure to type these words out: I grew up as a Pirate fan, and I've always been on the side of pitchers hitting. I DH'd in high school and I hated it. I can't understand why it's so hard to have nine guys in the field and the same nine guys in the lineup. I don't care about home runs and 13-12 final scores, I care about the strategy that comes in knowing when to swap out a starting pitcher for a pinch-hitter and the necessary double-switches that can make matching relievers with hitters so hard late in games. I love the look on a starting pitcher's face when he leaves a careless fastball up in the zone and his mound opponent pounds it for a two-run double. I love seeing relief pitchers at the plate with comically oversized helmets, choked way up on a bat and glaring into the dugout at their manager for letting such an absurd scene happen. Pitchers are baseball players and baseball players have to hit and if they can't do it, that's their problem and their team's problem. No one DHes a blog post for me when I'm not ready or when I don't want to write it. Why should pitchers be different?

We're in the minority, though, NL fans. AL fans gave up the ghost long ago, saying that letting pitchers hit just gives managers more chances to muck with games and puts pinch hitters up in crucial situations when you'd normally want a regular at the plate. They say that maybe the strategy suffers, but the result is always more compelling baseball with better players involved. The MLBPA knows that the DH lets guys play longer, when they're no longer useful in the field. The owners know that a 9-8 game is more interesting to the casual fan than a 1-0 game. 

It's not going to happen tomorrow, but at some point in the near future the DH disparity between the National League and American League is going to become an issue, whether it's because AL teams spend 10% of their season without their designated hitters (as would happen with 30 interleague games on the schedule) or because it creates the idea that it has cost a team a playoff spot. When that happens, fans will be outraged and commentators and bloggers will be outraged and everyone will wonder just why baseball has a dumb rule split between two leagues that are no longer autonomous leagues in any way anymore except for the designated hitter. And Bud Selig, or whoever succeeds him, will sit down with his advisors and they'll talk about the problem, and they'll consult with the owners and they'll consult with the MLBPA, and in the end they'll realize that they all agree that the only people that don't want designated hitters in the National League are the fans of National League teams. And then they'll bring the designated hitter to the National League. 

And then we'll moan about it, fellow National League fans. We'll know that a little bit of baseball's purity has died forever. We'll change the settings on our video games and simulators and never fully acquiesce to the change. But we adapted to a third division and a wild card and interleague play and the stupid "This Time It Counts" All-Star Games. We'll adapt to this, too, even though we don't want to. I'm warning you now to make it easier when it happens: the days of hitting pitchers are numbered in the National League, and there's nothing we can do about it anymore. 

This article first appeared on The Outside Corner and was syndicated with permission.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

76ers trading Ersan Ilyasova to Hawks for Tiago Splitter, pick

Budapest drops 2024 Olympic bid, leaving only Los Angeles and Paris, which could ban some participants

DeMarcus Cousins was ‘praying’ for a better supporting cast with Sacramento

Report: Nets trading Bojan Bogdanovic to Wizards

Elliott spoke with police after 'best friend' caught with gun

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jets reportedly believe Jay Cutler can compete in AFC East

Report: 'Melo could waive no-trade clause for Clippers after season

Rivers: Paul medically cleared to play, could return Thursday

Trea Turner missed part of Nats camp Wedneday for jury duty

Hernandez's prison calls to Pouncey could come up in trial

Josh Hamilton experiences pain in reconstructed knee, leaves camp

The top 10 MLB third basemen heading into spring training

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

Box Score 2/22: Not everyone is happy with the new intentional walk rule

Teams and players who could be dealing at the NBA trade deadline

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Nintendo is finally, thankfully embracing sports and eSports

The 'Did the Kings just make the Pelicans into a super team?' quiz

Will the Timberwolves start showcasing their potential?

'Playmakers' in Ice Cube's league who can help the Cavs

Box Score 2/21: It's trade heartbreak season

The guard tandems you'd want in a 2-on-2 tournament

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The top 10 MLB third basemen heading into spring training

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher to win the MVP award

Teams, players who could be dealing at the NBA trade deadline

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Nintendo is finally, thankfully embracing sports and eSports

The 'Did the Kings just make the Pelicans into a super team?' quiz

Will the Timberwolves start showcasing their potential?

'Playmakers' in Ice Cube's league who can help the Cavs

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker